The thing about RV’ing is that I find myself on periodic sidetracks. I’ll probably write about the differing ways of “seeing” that become part and parcel of the RV lifestyle — but for today I want to talk about just one of those sidetracks that I seem unable to escape.
With us being in Milwaukee for one month I am suddenly exposed to things we’ve had very little contact with for almost half a year. Because they are “new” and shiny, and glittery they appear as larger than they are in a person’s perception. Yeah, yeah, yeah… I know, I like “shiny objects”. So it shouldn’t be too surprising when some of those “shiny objects” catch my eye.
Staying at the Wisconsin State Fair RV Park puts us about equidistant from two malls — for the purpose of temperature controlled (or RAIN controlled) walking. I’m not a mall person. It may have been a year or more since we went to a mall for the express purpose of shopping. (Now that I think about it — we went to Mall of America to get Peggy a battery for her watch) We don’t need a lot of stuff; we don’t have room for a lot of stuff; and we don’t find most of the stuff on offer all that appealing. I’m continuing my pursuit of minimal living — to the great disappointment of my wife who keeps trying to get me to buy more clothes!
Mall walking this time of year becomes interesting as stores are ramping up recruitment for the coming Holiday Buying Season and start cramming stores full of merchandise for the annual Holiday sell-a-thon. A lot of the stores are displaying help wanted signs; we see the occasional hopeful applicant scoping out the stores. We also see lots of employees in their usual routines: arriving for work, taking breaks, grabbing lunch, etc..
My personal takeaway from all of this activity is that the two of us witness “The Mall” as veritable ‘foreigners’ and ‘strangers’ walking through someone else’s world. And I’m hit by the monumental efforts put forth to convince others to consume. Shiny baubles. Glittery trinkets. Buy them. Buy them before someone else buys them — be the first! One of the stores is displaying a large merchandising display purporting to tell shoppers the 10 looks that they must have. I’m glad someone else know that I need 10 new looks! I was completely unaware of my need!
I have always been a buyer. That is to say, I don’t go to the store — any store, including the mall — for the sake of looking for things to buy. I go there when I need something, I know what I need, I find it, I buy it, then I leave — without fanfare and without extra steps. Shopping is not an event in my life. It’s a necessity, and when the need is filled I stop doing it.
I wonder where consumerism in the U.S. will end? We have machines to do so many things. Most of our products are built by machines — and those companies that are still using human labor to build things seem to be doing it overseas. Machines not only build products, they sell them too. Amazon is the perfect example — all that amazon needs people for is picking and packing orders — and running from the delivery truck to the doorstep to drop them off although that may change with the advent of drone delivery! Oh – and we can’t forget the myriad of vending machine for everything from soda to acne products! Machines make what we need, they transport what we need, they deliver what we need, and only too often they ARE what we purchase.
There other ways of doing things. I know that our society has moved away from small shops and business specialists but it used to be fun buying products from people who knew their trade, their product, their business. Today, all our butchers seem to work for grocery chains. All our bakers seem to work for corporate bakeries. pharmacists, and hardware guys, and sports guys and… well, you get the idea…. they all seem to work for The Man.
If we don’t need people to build the products, and we don’t need people to transport them, or to repair them (we throw them away instead) what do we need people FOR? In another two weeks we’ll be gone from here. I suspect that in the warmer climes of S. Texas we won’t be doing as much mall walking. There will be refuges to spend time at and new places to see. I don’t think I’ll miss the mall. Besides — I still have papers to shred and other errands to run when we aren’t mall walking!!!!!